WIPO PCDA1: Second FSFE statement, on Friends of Development proposal

The Friends of Development proposal is currently up for discussions, and NGOs are being asked for statements. Since Free Software disappeared from the Friends of Development proposal in the latest revision stage, it seemed prudent to criticse that:

     Mr Chair, since you have now once more taken over as chair for our session, let me first congratulate you on your election as chair and your effort at trying to reach a substantial outcome. We greatly appreciate the chance to give some insight on the excellent proposal by the Friends of Development, on which we would like to commend them. The Free Software Foundation Europe fully supports most of the notions expressed in the proposal. In particular we wish to highlight the importance of a need for policy review and evaluation on the policy-making level and a possible Treaty on Access to Knowledge. We also are strongly in favor of protecting the public domain from re-privatisation. As was pointed out by the majority of delegations, the WIPO toolset is supposed to serve the public domain by allowing a limited monopoly in return for expanding the reservoir of human knowledge that is the public domain. That said, it seems the notion of Free Software is now sadly lacking from the Friends of Development proposal, as it is lacking from some of the other proposals. We believe that authors of Free Software have no less right to publish the result of their work under a copyright license of their choosing. We also believe that software authors around the world should have the full information about their licensing options, including releasing their software as Free Software, which is an enormously successful model in the social, political and economic sense. It may seem counterintuitive to some, but Free Software under licenses that provide the freedom to use the software for any purpose; the freedom to study the software to learn how it functions; the freedom to adapt the software to the needs of any person or group; and the freedom to distribute that software in both the original and modified form; have greatly contributed to humankind in the past 20 years. These freedoms provided by Free Software were central in bringing about the internet and have enabled people around the world to train themselves and others. These freedoms allowed people to adapt the software to their language and culture, to support and accomodate their disabilities and gave them the power to make sure that they would be the ones who controlled their digital infrastructure. Free Software will be doing this in the future. And while it is true that people and companies contributing to Free Software are useful for all of society, companies large and small around the world also prove the economic success of the Free Software model. All software developers around the world deserve to be fully informed about their choices, and WIPO should include Free Software in all its activities. WIPO should further not de-facto mandate use of proprietary software by member states or other organisations it interfaces with. Authors and users of Free Software are no less entitled to make their free choices of license, and WIPO should therefore not exclude them on the grounds of their legitimate choice of copyright licensing. We therefore find it necessary to explicitly include Free Software in the proposals and future activities. Thank you, Mr. Chair. 
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About Georg Greve

Georg Greve is CEO and President of the Board at Kolab Systems AG, a Swiss Open Source ISV for collaboration and communication, also available as Swiss hosted service Kolab Now. During his 20+ year career in Free and Open Source Software he has been author of the Brave GNU World, one of the most widely spread columns on the subject, founding president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and provided input to various governmental and inter-governmental organisations. In 2009 Georg was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on Ribbon by the Federal Republic of Germany for his contributions to Open Source and Open Standards.
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